With its long stretch of sandy beaches barely touched by tourism, the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat is probably one of the best kept secrets in southern Thailand. While nearby Ko Samui has morphed from a quiet island of coconut palms into a busy and world-renowned tourist destination, the mainland beaches at Khanom in Nakhon Si Thammarat province have remained virtually untouched. This makes the area ideal for anybody who finds Ko Samui too developed or who wants to enjoy the simple pleasures that Khanom has to offer.
Located in the northern half of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Khanom may be geographically close to Ko Samui, but it is miles away in terms of development and the number of tourists. And it is this lack of development that appeals to discerning visitors who eschew Thailand’s bigger and better known destinations in favour of laid-back Khanom with its long sandy beaches and friendly atmosphere.
There are a number of different beaches and bays to explore in Khanom district with all of them enjoying a similar low-key vibe. Take in the sea air with a long stroll along the empty beach or sit down with a good book and simply relax. The majority of the beachfront in Khanom is undeveloped with just a smattering of resorts and restaurants making it an ideal location to chill out away from the crowds. There isn’t a huge food scene in Khanom and unless you have hired a car or motorbike most visitors will eat at their hotel or at the small beachside restaurants close by. One restaurant that is often recommended by Khanom locals as a venue worth seeking out is Khun Lee’s restaurant.
The area is famous for its pink dolphins, a rare albino breed with a vibrant pink tinge, which can often be seen in the waters off Khanom. Boat trips to the nearby islands and to spot the pink dolphins can be arranged by Khanom Tour although sightings depend on weather, sea conditions and luck.
Unlike many other beach destinations in Thailand, public transport options in Khanom are limited. This helps with the feeling of seclusion and if you want to explore all of the Khanom coastline you will need to hire your own transport.
Where to stay in Khanom
The area known as Khanom covers a long stretch of coastline which extends down to Sichon and takes in a number of mainland beaches including Nadan Beach and Nai Phlao Beach. You won’t find the same range and choice of accommodation in Khanom as you will on nearby Ko Samui, but you will still find a good selection of beach-front bungalows and value for money hotels.
Racha Kiri Resort & Spa
Sea Mountain Khanom
Nakhon Si Thammarat city
Few foreign visitors make it to the historic city of Nakhon Si Thammarat and you can expect a warm welcome as you wander around town. This is one of the most culturally important locations in southern Thailand and if you are staying in Khanom, do try to make time for a day trip to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Highlights include the city’s main attraction, the impressive Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahavihan, and the wonderful Ban Nang Talung shadow puppet museum. With your own transport, make the journey into the countryside to visit Baan Khiri Wong, an excellent example of community based tourism that is helping to preserve local traditions.
Travel inland from Nakhon Si Thammarat to neighbouring Surat Thani province and the outstanding beauty of Khao Sok National Park. The gorgeous Cheow Larn Lake and Ratchaprapa Dam are only 90 minutes drive away from Khanom and makes for an excellent day trip. Alternatively, stay overnight at the award-winning Elephant Hills.
The airport at Nakhon Si Thammarat is located around 10 miles north of the city centre. If you are travelling to the beaches of Khanom you can use either Nakhon Si Thammarat or Surat Thani airport which are both approximately 90 minutes away by taxi.